Meet Clare Maguire, a 19-year old that came an under-appreciated fifth in the BBC 2011 Poll. Now, I realise how to some, coming fifth may not sound that special or promising because after all, these are the guys that put Little Boots, White Lies and La Roux ahead of Lady GaGa in the 2009 Poll. So basically, these polls should be named “The Some Pop Goodies Who May Or May Not Have Some Success” Polls. It’s a little detrimental actually, that poll, and how it tells us what the next year in music will sound like, hoping everyone listening will compliantly buy what is “cool”, and how it very rarely puts the right person on top.
Clare Maguire was born in Birmingham and grew up listening to Bob Dylan, Niel Young, Johnny Cash et al, but still enjoyed the contemporaries of her time such as the Spice Girls. Interesting mix, you say, but you’d never guess that her current musical style consists of epic-sounding choruses, towering synthesised melodies, all glazed over with a deeply haunting vibrato, winched up from the husky depths of an echoey well at the bottom of Clare’s lungs. Her unique singing style has called many critics and listeners to compare it to Annie Lennox, Stevie Nicks, as well as those more contemporary comparisons such as “a cross between Amy MacDonald and Florence Welch”.
She released the first single from her début album, ‘Light After Dark’; ‘Ain’t Nobody’, a darkly brooding, surrealist piece of synth-rock drama ready to wipe away the competition. Unfortunately, it’s efforts only managed to peak at #78 so now, with the backing of the BBC, it’s full steam ahead for single #2: ‘The Last Dance’, here’s a little background:
Clare wrote this song in mourning for Michael Jackson; after reading on the Internet some “distasteful comments” about one of her childhood heroes the day after he died, she went to her studio with one of the best songwriters and producers an artist can get these days – Fraser T. Smith – and wrote the lyrics in ten minutes. Evidence of that is clear – “You were the first man to move me”, “I wasn’t ready to lose you”, referencing the sudden shock of Jackson’s passing.
And when you listen to the song, she and the music appear to exist in a world detached from reality, but even so, the emotion conveyed is overwhelming. The production and her voice are absolutely flawless; complimenting each other with sophistication and class. It’s a brooding-yet-icy, racing-but-calm, minimal-yet-epic masterpiece, guided by Clare’s siren call. But she wastes no time in showing the listener what a belting powerhouse she can be as she erupts into the chorus, proclaiming that she’d “Save my last dance for you, my friend”, backed up with a slowly crescendo-ing production. Catchiness is provided in the post-chorus in the form of “I got my light in my hands/And your love in my heart” before rounding off with another repeat of the chorus. Absolutely sublime.
Here’s the video: Want more proof of the Michael Jackson tribute? Check out 0:58, 3:00, and more particularly 2:49 of the video. STRIKE A POSE. Oh, no wait, that’s Madonna…
Now that’s one beautifully simplistic video.
Clare Maguire’s huge selling point here is her song writing skills and her amazingly powerful voice (which, I hear, forced her to mime in her Christmas Nativity choir because she was so much louder than all her other classmates), but it may also be the one thing that puts people off her, as it could, to some, be very annoying. But hey, and least now we know that Duffy just needs to reign in the helium inhalation and she’d sound just as effortlessly sexy as Clare Maguire with her own vibrato.
Rating: 5.0 STARS
Download: February 21, 2011 (OUT NOW)
Featured Album: ‘Light After Dark’